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Moscow, Tskhinvali Push to Maintain Existing Peace Format
/ 17 Sep.'06 / 18:09
Civil Georgia

South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity hailed the current Russian-led peacekeeping and negotiating arrangement for the South Ossetian conflict at an informal meeting with Russian, South Ossetian and North Ossetian negotiators in Tskhinvali on September 17.

The three negotiators, along with the Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Merab Antadze, make up the quadripartite Joint Control Commission (JCC), which Tbilisi describes as an “outdated format” that needs to be replaced with a more effective international arrangement.

Georgian State Minister Merab Antadze was absent at the meeting with Kokoity in Tskhinvali, as he left for New York where Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is expected to address the 61st UN General Assembly on September 22 in regard to the secessionist conflicts.

“We think that the quadripartite format has not exhausted itself in the peace process. It is only necessary to follow already reached agreements to build mutual confidence… No matter what decision is taken [by the Georgian side] in respect to the Russian peacekeeping troops, they will stay in the conflict zone anyway,” Kokoity told Russian, South Ossetian and North Ossetian co-chairman of the JCC, the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee reported on September 17.

Russia chief negotiator Yuri Popov said during the meeting that the Georgian side wants to portray the JCC as ineffective by refusing to follow already existing agreements.

“Very concrete decisions have been made in the frames of the JCC… It is absolutely unclear why our Georgian colleagues refuse to built up their position on the basis of already existing agreements. They are offering nothing concrete,” Yuri Popov said, according to the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee.

The South Ossetian leader has once again called for high-level JCC talks.

The informal September 17 meeting in Tskhinvali followed a thwarted JCC session that was scheduled for September 15 in Tskhinvali. The talks failed to take place because of a disagreement between Tskhinvali and Tbilisi over the composition of the Georgian side’s delegation.

On September 15 the South Ossetian leader met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow and discussed the “alarming situation” in the conflict zone, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

On September 14 the Russian Foreign Ministry said that President Saakashvili, in his speech at the UN General Assembly, will demand that the Russian-led peacekeeping operations in Abkhazia and South Ossetia be scrapped. The Russian MFA’s statement warned that Moscow has no right to ignore South Ossetia's and Abkhazia’s calls for the continuation of Russian peacekeeping operations, “especially given the fact that the majority of residents in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are Russian citizens.”

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